Yesterday the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of musical unprofessionals — took a train to Hamburg and visited the even smaller trains on the model railways at Miniatur Wunderland. Afterwards we sat down and reviewed Germany’s Eurovision 2015 singer Ann Sophie and her song “Black Smoke”. Did the song have us choking? Or was it a breath of fresh air? Read on to find out…
Germany’s Eurovision 2015 song
Reviews: Ann Sophie with “Black Smoke”
Padraig: Co-written by English chart topper Ella Eyre, “Black Smoke” would have been the perfect UK entry for the likes of Duffy or The Noisettes. Britain’s loss is Germany’s gain. After last year’s misfire, the land of Lena has upped its game with this sassy stomper of a tune. Retro without feeling dated, it injects some much needed attitude into the 2015 contest. In retrospect the country should be thankful for the twist of fate which sent Ann Sophie to Vienna.
Luis: Ann Sophie is amongst the finest performers of this year. Her attitude and confidence on stage remind me of Kaliopi. Like the Macedonian diva, Ann Sophie knows she can rock the stadium and she proves it, y’all! The only drawback is that, even though her vocals are on point throughout the song, they don’t really stand out, so the whole package lacks something in the end. I’d say Germany is one to watch this year, as “Black Smoke” is very jury-friendly, and Ann Sophie’s charisma can appeal to a big part of the audience. I’d be more than happy if that happens.
Angus: “Black Smoke” was my favourite at the German national selection. It has the kind of swagger Lena had second time around and the credibility German songs have lacked since “Taken By A Stranger”. Equal parts jaunty and jazzy, Ann Sophie dazzles at the centre of the performance. The song is classy, her vocal stellar and the emotion palpable.
William: Ann Sophie tells us two hearts say three words, and I’m assuming they are “I hate this”. Sophie’s voice is nasally and grating, and the melody relies on her shouting and dropping faux sass. She’s trying to give us attitude but I’m just not buying it. I don’t understand all the praise y’all are throwing at her. Perhaps all that black smoke has blocked your ear canals.
Deban: Had “Black Smoke” been assigned to a different singer, it may have taken flight. However, Ann Sophie’s voice lacks the fullness and required temperature necessary to cook this track right. Furthermore, she is rather wooden, thus marking another nail in the coffin. She should simply treat Vienna as a holiday.
Chris: In amongst all the drama of the national final, Ann Sophie has steadily worked her way up my list to being one of my favourites of the year. I really like “Black Smoke” as a song and Ann Sophie’s stage presence is on point, judging by the national final performance. The Lena comparisons certainly seem to be swirling around, though I can’t see this as a winner – but Germany should certainly be fighting for the top ten.
Robyn: There’s some black smoke in the shape of Andreas Kümmert hanging over this song, but it’s still one of my favourites. The chorus is super catchy and Ann Sophie is a bold, confident performer. She has a background in theatrical performance and sometimes her interpretation of “Black Smoke” comes across as a bit cabaret, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a lot of spirit here. I hope the song does better than the current odds are predicting.
First reaction – drama at the German national final
Ramadan: Looks like Lena has returned to the competition, and I’m loving it. Ann Sophie has charisma and she definitely knows how to perform. Though she needs to ditch those backing vocalists from the national final and get the singers that Juliana Pasha had in 2010. It’s a nice, groovy song that I’m sure many people will enjoy listening to.
Bogdan: Ann Sophie’s song wasn’t my first choice in the German national selection (no prizes for whoever guesses which one was it), but “Black Smoke” has grown on me. It sounds like a vintage (in a good way) affirming anthem and I simply love the piano bits! Ann Sophie herself is charismatic and carries her song very well, commanding the stage. The backing singers, who are essential to this song, are also very good.
Judit: At first I thought Germany sent Lena 2.0 this year, but the truth is that Ann Sophie is much better than the winner of 2010. I love her voice, and the song describes my feelings right now. Perfect – it’s not too much and not too little. Black Smoke is in my top five and I’m so glad she got the chance to represent Germany.
Our jury consists of 29 people, but we only have room for 10 written reviews. Here are the remaining 19 scores.
William C: 6/10
To reduce potential bias, we drop the highest and lowest scores prior to calculating the average. We removed a low of 3.5 and a high of 10.